A PIONEERING veteran bodybuilder has been honoured for a lifetime’s achievement to the sport in the South West.

Chris Dykes, 68, who runs the Body Zone gym in Tavistock, has been taking part in and organising body building events for 50 years.

He was presented with the award at the Time 4 Nutrition South West bodybuilding event at the Corn Exchange in Exeter last weekend.

Event promoter Woodie Stenning said: “Chris fully deserved to be recognised in this way and should’ve been before now. He has been bringing the competitive bodybuilding to the South West and therefore, promoting the sport to thousands of new people and widening its appeal.

“He was the youngest vice-president of the English Federation of Body Building (EFBB) and and with the International Federation of Body Building, brought the top bodybuilders in the world to the region, such as Arnold Swarzenegger in the Mr Olympia competitions. No one has done so much for bodybuilding in the South West. If he was happy to come back to competing, we’d be happy to create an age group category for him.”

Chris said: “This award means a lot to me. It was a total surprise. I was there to hand out awards, which I did, but it was a ruse to get me on stage. I was speechless for the first time ever.

He started bodybuilding while a Royal Marine and then studied all the disciplines while working as a North Sea oil industry diver and started professionally. He says bodybuilding is not merely a vanity project.

He thanked his wife Jan for supporting his career and said: “Bodybuilding is a sport and if you are driven enough and enter competitions it rules your life just like other sports can if you want to reach your potential and take your body to the limits. Bodybuilding is a way of life for me and others.”

Chris’s also supports former injured marines and others by helping them become mobile again. His son Louis, also a bodybuilder, was coincidentally born in a gym, and runs a gym in Callington.